Bloggers, like other online creators – such as vloggers, podcasters, microbloggers (hello Tumblr!) or social media participants – are an important part of public knowledge creation, discussion and entertainment. There are a huge number of blogs out there.
The blogosphere is massive – from small hobby blogs read by a handful of friends and family to international superstar blogs that are big businesses in their own right. Blogging is big. We know it’s big. We are part of something that is big and awesome. And that feels pretty special.
However, blogging is relatively unregulated. And therein lies the potential for misuse.
Some examples of unethical practices in blogging:
- Plagiarism of another person’s content
- Stealing copyrighted work (this is particularly prevalent for photography)
- Abusive and libellous blog posts about another person or company
- Non-disclosure of sponsored content
- Covert advertising through affiliate links
- Misleading endorsements
- No credit or acknowledgement to original sources
The list goes on…. Quite a lot of the items on that list is are activities that are breaking the law.
This varies from country to country but there are laws covering Copyright, Data Protection, Intellectual Property, Advertising Standards, and Libel Laws etc.
Just because it is free and easy to set up a blog, doesn’t make it free from responsibility.
And just because of the plethora of blogs doesn’t mean yours won’t go unnoticed if you break a few rules. We need to be careful!
Blogging needs a code of ethics because we have a responsibility not only to our own integrity but that of our community of Bloggers too.
If we want to be treated equally to journalists and other media professionals then we need to conduct ourselves in an honest, fair and transparent way.
Below I have drafted a potential blogging code of ethics. I’ve included a printable as well for you to download and keep.
POTENTIAL BLOGGING CODE OF ETHICS
1. Link to and credit material you reference including your inspiration and sources.
2. Only publish facts you have checked. Present opinion as opinion, rather than fact.
3. Disclose the following:
- Monetary interests
- Conflict of interests
- Personal agendas
- Any other material that you receive benefit from whether monetary, comped or gift in kind
4. Note any biases you may have.
5. Don’t feed the trolls.
6. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.
7. Be honest, fair and transparent.
8. Never plagiarise.
9. Admit mistakes and correct them.
10. Be civil and courteous.
11. Do not steal and use another person’s work.
12. Blog with integrity.
Let us know in the comments below if there’s anything else you would add to this.
We want to make this a rolling document and it’s still a work in progress. We would love your input!
And if you think this post will be useful to your blogging pals please give it share on your social networks.